It’s a problem many of us have experienced: We are introduced to a new person and moments later we can’t remember his or her name. According to an article written by Dr Gary Small in Psychology Today, this issue just worsens with age, as nearly 85% of middle-aged and older adults forget names. We all understand the importance of networking and building business connections, so here are a few tips to help you remember people’s names:

  • Get it right the first time. If when you are introduced to someone or meet them for the first time and don’t catch their name right away, ask them to repeat it, by saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry I missed your name.” If it is not a name you recognise, ask about its origin or its spelling.  Asking someone to spell their name will create a mental picture of the person’s name and is particularly helpful for those with a visual memory.
  • As soon as you have got it right … use it!. “It’s nice to meet you, Sam.” Try to bring the name into the conversation a few times as you begin speaking and use it several times but not in an obvious or repetitive way.
  • Ask for their business card. Don’t just put it away. Study it and comment on the logo or design while you focus on the name.
  • If possible make a connection with the name. Connecting the name to something familiar will help you remember it later.

If after a conversation you are still in the embarrassing situation of not remembering the person’s name say something like “I have really enjoyed our conversation but I am sorry I have forgotten your name.”  It’s not ideal but start with a compliment and commit their name to memory, it is better than not being able to introduce them to a colleague, or appearing rude because you can’t remember their name once you have met them several times.

Like most skills we can improve our ability to remember people’s names, it will take some time and practice but it will certainly be worth the effort. People appreciate you using their name and will connect more easily with you. As Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”